IBM's mainstream server offering comes in the shape of the all encompassing Netfinity range which includes everything from small single-processor machines to giant rack-mounted monstrosities offering four-way processing.
The Netfinity 3000 entry-level offering is little more than a mildly pumped-up desktop machine, designed primarily for use in the small business environment. It's a single processor only device, offered with 300MHz to 450MHz Penitum II chips. IBM fits the 3000 series with 64Mb of 100MHz SDRAM as standard, although a maximum of 384Mb can be installed. Two hard drives are offered with the 300 series, a 4.5Gb or 9.1Gb Wide Ultra SCSI unit - a PCI RAID controller can be fitted as an optional extra. The 3000 also features an integrated 10/100 Ethernet adaptor and a 32x CD-ROM drive.
Remaining in the tower case format, the 3500 series takes the computing horsepower up a step by offering dual processor capabilities. The processors on offer range from 233MHz to 333MHz PII units (presumably higher speeds are not available for heat control issues) and the maximum memory capacity is stepped up to 512Mb. To cope with the extra heat generated by twin processors, the 3500 also features an internal airflow system which improves on the cooling offered by the three fans. The other main differences are that the 3500 features an integrated Wide Ultra SCSI controller, as opposed to the 3000's PCI SCSI card, and a 4Mb PCI video adaptor - the 3000 features an integrated video adaptor.
Moving slightly further up the ladder we have the 5000 series of departmental servers which clearly feature some of the more advanced technologies required by larger organisations. Available in both tower and rack configurations, IBM offers the 5000 with a choice of single or dual 350/400/450MHz PII processors. Maximum memory capacity is shunted up to 1Gb, but more interestingly we also see a degree of redundancy designed into the system. The system offers a 350W power supply, which is actually made up from two 175W units; a third redundant 175W power supply is offered as an optional extra.
A Dual Channel Ultra Fast/Wide SCSI controller is built onto the system board and the unit features no less than eight drive bays, five of which are hot swappable which means that errant drives can be removed and replaced without bringing the system down. Depending on your exact choice of drives you can configure the machine with up to 45.5Gb of hot-swappable disk space. RAID controllers are offered as an optional extra. The 5000 also features something that IBM calls a Light Path Diagnostic Panel; this apparently aids support staff by highlighting components which have either failed or are likely to fail in the immediate future.
The 5500 takes the Netfinity range to quite a serious level - far beyond the realms of the high-spec desktop PCs which often masquerade as departmental servers. The same processor choices is available as in the 5000, but the removable processor "shuttle" which holds them along with the memory can be upgraded to take Xeon devices instead.
This machine also features a built-in ServeRAID II disk controller as standard, and there are 10 drive bays, six of which are hot-swappable.
There are also four hot swap PCI ports (out of a total of six, plus one ISA). The 5500 also offers both hot-swappable and redundant power supply and cooling fan options.
The M10 variant of the 5500 offering offers a handful of enhancements.
Firstly it's offered with single or dual 400MHz Xeon processors and can be upgraded to offer quad processor support (presumably when Intel manages to iron out those annoying little difficulties). Also, memory capacity has been increased from 1Gb to 2Gb.
The Netfinity range continues with the 7000 enterprise server systems, which are far too complex to be covered in a brief article such as this.
There's no doubting that IBM has successfully covered all of the bases with its Netfinity systems.
Even in the entry-level servers there's evidence of the same attention to detail which makes the higher end offerings so highly regarded.
- Prices start from: TBC
- Contact: 0990 426 426 - www.ibm.com.
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